What’s going on with the Save Eye Care campaign?
There are less than 50 days left until Ontarians will lose access to primary eye care services.
Starting September 1st, OHIP patients aged 0-19, 65+, and adults with specific medical conditions will be unable to visit their optometrist.
How did we get here?
In 1989, the Ontario government paid $39.15 for an OHIP eye exam. In 2021, 32 years later, they pay an average of $44.65. This amount does not come close to covering the cost (including rent, staff, utilities, equipment, taxes and supplies) to provide an eye exam.
The system is not sustainable. In his op-ed for the Ottawa Citizen, OAO member Dr. Patrick Monaghan said; “Would you expect a restaurant to keep an item on the menu that costs more than it can charge to provide it? What if most of the people coming into the restaurant were there to order that specific dish? How long do you expect that item to stay on the menu?”
Over the past 30 years, we have exhausted all options to secure a commitment from the Ontario government to adequately invest in optometric care. The government has refused to even commit to a formal negotiation process with optometrists, even though they do this with medical doctors and teachers. Despite all this, we are still willing to work with the government to avoid a service withdrawal. The government simply needs to commit to a binding, formal negotiation process — the same way they do with other health care sectors and ensure that optometrists will no longer be forced to subsidize publicly funded eye care.
As of July 14th, over 72,000 Ontarians have sent letters to their local MPP. Plus, another 50,000 have signed the Save Eye Care petition in optometrists’ offices across the province.
The momentum for this campaign has been strong, but patients need to keep this pressure on the Ontario government. Optometrists don’t want to withdraw services – caring for their patients is of utmost importance to them. But if nothing changes, optometrists are concerned about access and the quality of care they will be able to provide if the underfunding continues.
Has the government shown any willingness to engage in discussions yet?
No. The government is saying they are talking to us, yet it’s been radio silence since December. We continue to ask them for a meeting to at least get the discussion going, but nothing yet.
What can you do to help?
Visit www.saveeyecare.ca to send a letter to your MPP! Share information about this campaign with your friends and family, and help spread the word. Together, we can save eye care in Ontario.